Darryl D'Monte

The Taj Mahal has been in the public eye for the wrong reasons in the early years of the twenty-first century. Former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati, launched an ill-conceived ‘Taj Corridor’ plan along the banks of the Yamuna river, across the monument. Fortunately, before too much damage was done, the Rs 175 crore project was nipped in the bud: the Chief Minister had to resign and the threat was averted. Not long after, there was a feeble attempt by the Waqf Board to claim the ‘miracle in marble’ as its property—no doubt with an eye on the enormous revenues that this most-visited tourist site in India earns.

But it is not as if the Taj has not had its share of threats even much earlier. The earliest ...

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